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Heart Disease


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There are a number of different factors that can affect how likely you are to get heart disease. You will need to weigh up the data to draw your conclusions.

These written materials are examples for revision practice only. They are not from any exam papers.

Biology - ideas in context

Who has heart disease?

Heart disease is the largest cause of death for people living in England. Approximately one in five of all deaths is caused by heart disease.

However, heart disease does not affect all people equally. Some people are more likely to have heart disease than others.

Risk factors for heart disease include age, sex, diet, smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol. They can even include how much you earn and what type of education you had.

Look at the graph. It shows the incidence of heart disease in different members of the population depending on how much money they earn.

Graph shows that as income increases the number of deaths from heart disease decreased in both men and women. The number of deaths from heart disease for women is always lower than the number of deaths from heart disease in men.

Graph showing the number of deaths from heart disease against the amount of income for both men and women.


  1. Look at the data. Which group of people is most likely to suffer from heart disease?
  2. Describe the correlation between deaths from heart disease and wealth.
  3. Suggest one factor that might increase the chance of a poor person getting heart disease.
  4. Suggest why not all poor people will get heart disease.
  5. To establish the reliability of the data in the graph it needs to be peer reviewed. Explain what is meant by 'peer review'.

Questions - higher only

Look at the table of data about heart disease.

Heart disease data

whole population including sample (per cent)sample tested with coronary heart disease (per cent)
age 0 - 17277
age 18 - 646150
age 65+1243
stopped education at 16 years of age2030
had some education after 16 years of age8070
  1. Suggest why scientists regard it as important that this data is peer reviewed.
  2. The data was produced from a questionnaire of 100 people that included 50 males who smoked and 50 females who did not smoke. Comment on the size of the sample, how well the samples were matched and why some of the data does not match the bar chart at the top of the page.
  3. Suggest how scientists could design a study to show that a high fat diet increases the risk of developing heart disease.
  4. Wendy looked at the data and thought that the data did not show a plausible mechanism for the acceptance or rejection of a causal link.

    Was Wendy correct? Explain your answer.

  5. Peter looked at the data and concluded that women were more likely to get heart disease than men.

    Was Peter correct? Explain your answer.


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